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PAs Have Flexibility to Change Specialties

NCCPA Certification Excellence

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Alicia Quella, Director of Communications
email: [email protected]
phone: 470-682-5111




PAs Report 87% Career Satisfaction

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Out of all Board Certified physician assistants/associates (PAs), half have taken advantage of their flexible role by switching to different specialties at least once. Nearly 31% of PAs have changed specialties two or more times throughout their career.

That’s according to the 2022 Statistical Profile of Board Certified PAs by Specialty, a report on 24 specialties and primary care published by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

PAs were asked how many times they had changed their specialty during their PA career. Specialties with the highest percentage of PAs who changed two or more times were occupational medicine (56%), geriatrics (44%) and physical medicine/rehabilitation (43%).

“Having the flexibility to change specialty practices has been a hallmark of the PA profession. PAs are educated and recertify as generalists in medicine, so this enables them to be versatile in different health care settings and clinical roles,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, Ed.D., PA-C, ICE-CCP, FACHE. “This also enables PAs to fill clinical gaps in needed areas and disciplines. In our latest report, we are able to include information on how PAs in different specialties approach these changes.”

The NCCPA statistical profile by specialty for 2022, in its eighth edition, was collected using responses from 140,815 PAs who responded to their professional profile. The report provides valuable data on the impact of PAs in health care, as well as insights into their career decisions.

For example, data shows that 26% of PAs reported an increase in clinical opportunities in the past year. The top three specialties that reported experiencing increased opportunities were cardiothoracic and vascular surgery (35%), critical care medicine (33%) and emergency medicine (30%).


The percentage of all PAs with educational debt of $100,000 or more is 28.5%. However, PAs in certain specialties are less likely to have educational debt: 56.9% of PAs in occupational medicine, 48.5% of those in geriatrics and 48.3% in family medicine reported no educational debt.


Overall, the data continues to show that PAs are generally satisfied with their jobs.

About 84% of PAs are satisfied with their current job and 87% are satisfied with their career choice of becoming a PA. PAs working in obstetrics-gynecology have the highest level of satisfaction with their career (92%), and PAs working in plastic surgery reported the greatest satisfaction with their current job (89%).

Even though PAs in emergency medicine expressed slightly lower job satisfaction, 82.1% of PAs in this specialty said they are satisfied with their career and 78.3% are satisfied with their current job.

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • The average income for PAs in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery is the highest at $143,807. PAs in dermatology follow with an average income of $136,749. The lowest average incomes are for pediatrics-general at $100,392 and obstetrics-gynecology at $107,790.
  • PAs working in neurosurgery and cardiothoracic and vascular surgery reported the highest average number of hours worked per week (45 hours).
  • 8% of PAs indicated they provide care to underserved patients who live in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and/or a Medically Underserved Area (MUA). Pediatrics saw the highest rates of practicing in these areas at 36.8%, followed by family medicine at 36.4%.
  • PAs in dermatology have the highest median number of patients seen per week (115 patients).
  • 9% of PAs in occupational medicine reported serving in the military, followed by 14.9% of PAs in family medicine/general practice.
  • 3% of PAs participate in telemedicine: led by psychiatry (73.3%), and family medicine (60.9%).

“This report provides valuable insights into the impact that PAs are making on the health care landscape, and it is a testament to the dedication and skill of PAs across the country,” Morton-Rias said.

The report, as well as other data about the profession is available for free on the NCCPA research page.


About the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is the only certifying organization for the over 168,000 PAs in the United States. The PA-C credential is awarded by NCCPA to PAs who fulfill certification, certification maintenance and recertification requirements. NCCPA also administers the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) program for experienced, Board Certified PAs practicing in ten (11 in 2025) specialties. For more information, please visit